The Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) have announced their intention to enter their pole-and-line and handline tuna fisheries, for skipjack and yellowfin, into full Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) assessment by the end of 2015. This move, alongside MMAF’s continued efforts to support and develop their fisheries, has been widely praised by NGOs.
The commitment comes on the back of the 4th International Coastal Tuna Business Forum (ICTBF), an annual event that brings key players in the market, government, NGOs and industry together, and was held last week in Bali. The forum cemented on-going dialogue amongst stakeholders, resulting in the decision to enter MSC this year, announced by Saut Hutagalung, Director General of Fisheries Product Processing and Marketing at MMAF.
“The internationally respected MSC eco-label will provide a solid foundation for the long-term viability of our country’s traditional fishing communities and will lead to much improved market access for our responsibly-caught tuna,” says Saut Hutagalung.
Andrew Harvey, Country Director of International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF) commented “IPNLF and our partners have been working closely with Saut Hutagalung and MMAF over recent years. MMAF, with NGO and industry support, have been active champions of their own fisheries, demonstrating the government’s commitment to sustainability and they deserve recognition for their dedication and hard work, in the same way that the fishers deserve recognition for theirs.”
At the ICTBF event, the Maldivian Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, Dr. Mohamed Shainee, called on Indonesia to partner with Maldives to push for better management at RFMO level, and offered his country’s support throughout the MSC process. Such cross-border support is especially notable when considering wide-ranging pelagic species like tuna.
The pole-and-line and hand-line fisheries in Indonesia are currently engaged in Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs), which have just undergone their annual review. The FIPs represent collaborative action between industry, MMAF and NGOs such as WWF-Indonesia, Masyarakat dan Perikanan Indonesia (MDPI), Fishing & Living, International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF) and the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP).
“MDPI, as an organisation which works closely with industry - specifically with fishermen, is hopeful with regards to this collaborative approach to potential MSC certification in Indonesia. The small-scale fishermen and the industries that support them need to get recognition for their good work towards sustainability over recent years, work which includes improving data, traceability and co-management in the communities,” says Aditya Utama Surono, Executive Director of MDPI.
Abdullah Habibi, Fisheries and Aquaculture Improvement Manager of WWF-Indonesia added “ the action plan toward improvement of the tuna fisheries in Indonesia which was developed and agreed in 2011 has served as a guideline for government, NGOs and private sectors. Some of the action plans have been well improved by the tuna stakeholders in Indonesia, and further collaboration on implementing the developed plan will not only work for achieving the MSC but also to sustain the fishery and continuity of the tuna industry".
The client for MSC certification will be Asosiasi Perikanan Pole & Line dan Handline Indonesia (AP2HI), a fishery association that acts as a unified voice for the country’s pole-and-line and handline industry. Inaugurated a year ago at the 3rd ICTBF in 2014, AP2HI have quickly established themselves as a respected industry group and an active force in developing and promoting coastal tuna fisheries, alongside the NGOs operating in Indonesia.
MMAF have already advanced the commitment towards MSC by convening a stakeholder meeting in Jakarta on 3rd June, this event clarified collective commitment to MSC from government and NGOs and outlined priority issues to be addressed over coming months and the roles and tasks of different organisations.